Despite packing on the pounds over the years, the youngest Pang brother managed to create shock waves all throughout the Ping Pong universe as he took down world No. 14 Koki Niwa of Japan with his crafty serves and swift counters. This goes to show that Singapore just has to put its faith and trust in our local talents instead of hiring foreigners to fight our battles for us.
Smashing the competition
On 29 February, when the Singapore team arrived in Kuala Lumpur for the World Team Table Tennis Championships, Xue Jie was asked to step in as a substitution for Singapore's best player Gao Ning who was out from a sprained ankle after the first match against Poland. Apparently, no one had expected him to bring his opponent to his knees (figuratively) especially since ping pong had taken a backseat for Xue Jie after he was called up for national service in 2014.
The young man looked cool and suave as he stepped up to the table and BROUGHT DOWN THE FREAKING THUNDER ON JAPAN. That's what you get for occupying us back in 1942! Xue Jie who is the world No. 334, made a fool out of world No. 14 Koki Niwa, a former world junior champion and Youth Olympic Games gold medallist, 11-4, 2-11, 11-8, 2-11, 11-8 in the first singles.
Niwa scrambled to counter Xue Jie's lightning fast reflexes but simply could not keep up with the Singaporean who was temprorarily infused with the powers of Pingpongod, imaginary God of Ping Pong.
Here comes Heartbreaker Pang and his guns
Even Xue Jie himself was surprised at his newfound ping pong prowess, which further proved that he really was blessed with the powers of the ping pong god. “Initially my aim was to not look too bad. (On Sunday) Gao Ning was giving me some advice on how to play him (Niwa) and cope with his serve, and I just stuck to our strategy,” Xue Jie humbly remarked. “It's the biggest win of my career.”
Xue Jie defeated Niwa 3-2, but Singapore ultimately lost 1-3 as Xue Jie's other team members did not perform as spectacularly as he did. Better luck next time Singapore.
A happy star-struck fan posing with a Xue Jie Milo packet
If you are cracking your head trying to figure out why Xue Jie looks so familiar, that is because you used to frequently see him in supermarkets. You have probably even drank him before, and not in a sexual way. Xue Jie was formerly the poster boy for Milo. But since he is moving on to bigger and better things, he might even work his way up to being the poster boy for beer pong in Singapore.
It is really in poor sportsmanship to gloat, but since I am no way an athlete, I would like to blow a raspberry in the direction of Koki Niwa. Looks like world rankings are not as reliable in determining a person's worth (at least in Ping Pong). Ladies (and/or gentlemen) who are already casting lustful glances in Xue Jie's direction, do take note that he is already happily attached to a lovely young lady.
Check out the match between Pang Xue Jie and Koki Niwa below.